Sparkle sparkle

October 27, 2011 at 9:32 am | Posted in I didn't know that! | Leave a comment
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Sparkle sparkle

It’s that time of year again – no we’re not talking about Christmas – it’s Bonfire Night, and with it come various fireworks and sparklers.

I love a sparkler and I must admit to sulking like a little girl if I don’t get to write my name with one – but what are they actually made of? Continue Reading Sparkle sparkle…


Scientific Cookies

July 8, 2011 at 8:06 am | Posted in Competition, Cooking with science, Do | 6 Comments
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We came across these fab chemistry-based cookie cutters  and just had to give it a go – all in the name of science of course!

Each set of unique cookie cutters features a test tube, an atom, a conical flask and a beaker – plus the method for making your tasty cookies.

We had lots of fun experimenting with different methods – we found the one sent with the cutters wasn’t so good for keeping the shape of the our cookies, so we  tried a different one that involved putting them in the fridge (method here).

Once they were cooked and cooled came the fun part – decorating them. If only they looked as good as the ones at – all I can say is I tried!

We’ve got a set of Science Cookie Cutters to give away – to be in with a chance of winning, just send your name, address, organisation/institution to Good luck!

Hold your nose, close your mouth and breathe…

June 8, 2011 at 9:31 am | Posted in I didn't know that! | Leave a comment
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It sounds almost impossible – hold your nose, close your mouth and then try to breathe – but we all do it when we have the hiccups or need to make our ears pop. This forceful attempted exhalation against a closed airway is known as the Valsalva manoeuvre.

I’d never really given the action any thought before, let alone that it might have a name! I was reading Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from your Airplane Window when I came across the term and thought it only right that I find out more.

Apparently the technique is named after Antonio Maria Valsalva, a 17th Century physician and anatomist from Bologna. His speciality was the human ear and he described this manoeuvre to expel pus from the middle ear.

When diving or taking off in an airplane, we feel that our ears need to pop because there is an unequal pressure across the eardrum caused by a pressure increase. People are advised to swallow – or if on a plane, suck a boiled sweet – but if that fails to work they’re advised try the Valsalva manoeuvre.

When exercising or weight lifting, you can sometimes perform the Valsalva manoeuvre without even realising. Air gets trapped and pressurised in the lungs, and blood pressure rises, forcing blood out of the pulmonary circulation into the left atrium. Pressure inside the chest prevents blood that has been circulating around the body getting back into the heart, and the output of the heart is reduced. When you finally breathe, the pressure on the chest is released, the pulmonary vessels and aorta re-expand and venous blood enter the chest and the heart, cardiac output begins to increase. The Valsalva manoeuvre can cause dizziness and fainting – that’s why you’re always told to breathe normally when exercising.

The Chin Chin Laboratorists

May 19, 2011 at 8:39 am | Posted in Do | 1 Comment
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Visit the Chin Chin Laboratorists in Camden – the first ever liquid nitrogen ice cream parlour. They combine haute cuisine with a splash of science and showmanship to create some weird and wonderful concoctions: Burnt butter caramel with fleur de sel; Basil with jelly bubbles; and Tea & Birthday Cake – sprinkles, buttercream and tea! Sounds as fun as it does tasty and customer comments suggest their ice cream is something truly special – what could be better on a hot summer’s day?

The Chin Chin Laboratorists, 49-50 Camden Lock Place, London,
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 12-7pm

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